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Showing posts from March, 2013

An Honest Assessment of My Korean Language Progress

Okay, six months of 한국어학당 finished (20 weeks x 20 hours per week = 400 hours of instruction), so I figured I should self-assess my Korean progress.

First, the positives:

- I speak better Korean than most foreigners here, which isn't saying much, since the bar is embarrassingly low. That is, if you can properly order food, say hello, goodbye, thank you, and pronounce (and remember) Korean names properly, then you are already ahead of probably 95% of foreigners, and Koreans will call you a "genius". It's 2013, people. This is sad.
- I can get around Korea just fine. I have no trouble with daily life.
- I can have conversations in just Korean about various topics, sometimes for hours.
- I can read and write better than I can speak.
- Occasionally, I can express complex concepts by mashing together words I already know.

Now, the negatives:

- My Korean is nowhere near "natural". The word and grammar choices I make are decidedly strange, and I don't sound lik…

Taking Responsibility

One of the most liberating and terrifying things you can do is to accept responsibility. For everything. Many of us grow up with the incredibly limiting belief that anything that doesn't go our way is someone else's fault. It's your teacher's fault, your friend's fault, your boss's fault, your partner's fault, the world's fault - whatever, as long as it's not your fault.

There is no surer way to hold yourself back than blaming your life and your setbacks on other people.

A particular pet peeve of mine is people who blame their character flaws on something out of their control. This takes a lot of different forms, such as, "I've got a bad temper, so he had it coming", or "Yeah, I'm just not good with responding to messages", or "I'm no good at talking to girls", or recently the popular anti-social excuse "I'm just not comfortable around people". Yes, I know that there are biological propensities…

Barriers

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the barriers that we create for ourselves as we go through life. Most of them aren't our fault - we learn them as we grow up. But more nefarious is the fact that we don't just learn them; we're taught them. Society seems designed to constrain our lives into neat little boxes, and the more that I've come to realize this, the more I want to shout at the top of my lungs and tell everyone that the boxes aren't real. They're imaginary, and if you don't want to spend your life constrained to one of these nice little boxes, you don't have to.

But it's up to you, and no one else.

Yesterday, in Korean class, our reading of the day was a letter from a student to one of his old teachers, about the day when his teacher told them that everyone has a special talent. That day resonated in the student's mind, because at the time, he said that he had no dream. Hearing someone simply tell him that he wasn't destined t…